The spring garden contains cool season crops that are planted and harvested from late winter to late spring. The seed of some of these crops can be planted directly in the garden soil, while others will need to be started in a greenhouse or other suitable growing area and then transplanted to the garden.

Spring garden plants grow best with relatively cool air temperatures (50 to 65 degrees F) and are raised either for their leaves, stems or flower buds. Peas are grown for their immature fruits. These crops produce their vegetative growth during spring’s short, cool days. If they are planted too late in the spring, summer heat reduces their quality by forcing some to flower and form seeds (bolt), and others to develop off flavors, bitterness, poor texture and low yields.

Avoid these problems by planting spring vegetables as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring since light frost will not injure them. Plant either seeds or transplants, allowing the vegetables to reach edible maturity before hot summer days arrive. Plant as soon as the soil is workable and dry enough so it does not form wet clods. Do not work the soil when it is wet. Doing so can ruin the texture for several years.

Wait for the best conditions no matter how much the planting bug is nibbling at your fingers. Do not use organic mulches in early spring. Rather, let as much sunlight as possible reach the soil to warm it. After May 1, you can use mulches to conserve soil moisture and help prevent weeds. Plant spring garden crops together so that you can plant fall vegetables in the same area later. When “double cropping,” do not plant closely related vegetables in the same rows because of possible disease and insect carryover from the spring crop.

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